Everywhere I look it seems that the most popular question small and medium businesses are asking is, “How can I do my marketing on a shoe string budget?” It’s a term we’re a little uncomfortable with here at the Box. Not because we want to take your money, but because of how it portrays marketing as a profession. I’d like to take this opportunity to change your attitude to the terminology ‘shoe string budget’.

I need to be honest with you and say that there is no such thing as a free marketing activity. Every marketing activity has a cost. If it takes time, then time is a cost. But treating marketing as a cost is not correct – you need to see it as an investment (I’ve written countless blogs on this point, so I’ll spare you the pain of going there again).

In our opinion, what does exist is ‘external marketing’ and ‘internal marketing’; not ‘expensive marketing’ and ‘cheap marketing’. We say ‘internal marketing’ where others say ‘marketing on a shoe string budget‘.

Let me give you an example. External marketing activities might include a TV campaign and some flighted radio advertising in key sales periods. Internal activities might include creating a cross promotion with other businesses, setting up a customer loyalty program, inviting local business people to a special function, having a regular sausage sizzle for local school kids… I could go on.

Internal activities cost a small amount in tools and resources, but generally, all they require is your time, leg work and a little innovative thinking – this is why we call them ‘Internal activities.’ And they are just as important as the ‘External activities’! Terming these items as ‘things to do on a shoe string budget‘ only discounts their value and worth. Use the word ‘inexpensive’, rather than ‘cheap!’

The key to my little lesson here is:

  • Change how you think about ‘shoe-string’ marketing.

  • External marketing activities should never exist without Internal marketing activities and vice versa.

  • You can only achieve successful implementation of both if you plan ahead!

We regularly prepare short, succinct plans called promotional plans for our clients. Simply, they are an allocation of a nominated marketing budget over a 12 month period in alignment with the business’s strategic goals and over-arching business plan. These plans are designed to allocate the budget to external activities which are reinforced by internal marketing activities. If you’re feeling a bit lost and don’t know how to make your marketing work, this could be all you need! Contact me if you’d like some more information.